Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Epic Plan

I turned 29 this month. It's my last year in my 30s and like many people at this mile marker, I'm feeling as though I let myself down. In the days following my party I had a great conversation with a friend about who we used to be and how awesome those people were.
Then one day on my long drive home from work I devised a multi-part plan on how to make this next year a truly epic one.  I pieced it together here and as you start thinking about your plans for the new year I hope this inspires you to create your own plan for an Epic Year.

Part A:
Live like it’s 2001 all over again.
I will remember 18 year old me and how epic she was. That person is still inside me. She was able to do everything and be everywhere and kick ass the whole while. The 18 year old me knew that the world was within her grasp. She was afraid but refused to show it. She had doubts but never doubted her ability to do anything she set her mind to. When she lacked self confidence she found a way to restore it.
She has worked hard all her life and juggled multiple jobs at a time alongside high school and college. The 18 year old me never would have let one of those responsibilities be done in a half-assed way.

18 year old me had drive and determination that nobody could take away.

18 year old me wouldn’t let anyone slow her down.

18 year old me kicked ass.

Part B:
Appreciate Scars
Falling hurts, and I will not discount that pain. I will however learn to appreciate the scars, the lessons and the knowledge that came from the fall. I will approach each imperfection on my skin and on my heart as though they are trophies.

I survived THAT!

My failures are not to be hidden.

I had the opportunity to fall flat on my face and I was able to get up.

I moved on.

I am stronger and wiser because of these scars.

Part C:
Be a healthier me.
I am not a cactus. I cannot sit in the blazing sun all day. I will seek emotional shade from friends, family and
those who can help. I will not let myself burn and fade away to nothing.
I will eat food that nourishes both my body and my soul. I will share these foods with others and encourage them to be better.
I will move. Everyday I will appreciate my ability to move.
If I can run I will run.
If I feel like leaping I will leap.
And on the days where I can barely move one foot in front of the other I will...

I will because I can.

Part D:
I will live with a thankful heart.
I will not let anger and jealousy take root. I will appreciate every smile and every tear. Everyday I am alive is a reason to be thankful and I will not go another day without appreciating those days.

Every breath.

Every moment.

Every thing.

May this next year be an epic year for you as well.
Happy New Year everyone!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pie Waffles

I've been obsessed with making waffles since I got my waffle iron two years ago. I make them nearly every weekend and I have a steady freezer supply to hold me over during the week.
This obsession has lead to some really great waffle flavors like my Cinnamon Roll Waffles, Gingerbread Waffles, Apple Pie Waffles and the popular Mango Waffles with Raspberry Sauce.
The version I began making since my diet modifications is egg free and made with whole wheat. Sounds like cardboard I know, but trust me they are moist and full of flavor.

This flavor is perfect for the holidays and will tide all your guests over until your big holiday meal.

Whole Wheat
Pumpkin Pie Waffles

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 stevia packets
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp pumpkin pie seasoning
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another. Then slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix lightly. (Warning: Over mixing the batter will lead to coasters and doorstops.) Pour this delicious batter into your preheated waffle iron. I feel like I don't need to tell you this, but you should take the waffle out of the waffle iron when it is done...this ranges based on your particular waffle iron. Just don't forget about them or you'll have wasted deliciousness and that, dear friends, is a holiday crime.

Top each waffle with sugar-free fat-free whipped topping and sugar-free syrup or 100% pure maple syrup. I love this waffle so much that I make it on a weekly basis. Even though we only make it through one or 2 of the 4 waffles, I use up all the batter and freeze any uneaten waffles. This makes having a quick breakfast in the morning a breeze because I just toss a frozen waffle in the toaster.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Smoked Cream Cheese

There are a few things in this world I can't live without:

Grilled Sandwiches

But right at the top of that list is CHEESE. I love cheese!
I love cheesy jokes!
I love cheesin it up in front of the camera!
I LOVE cheese!

Now I'm not sure if you know this, but cheese isn't very healthy. Sure a 1-ounce serving can supply up to a third of your daily calcium, plus protein and vitamin D, but there is a lot of fat in most of it. And while I'm thankful for the fat-free American singles on my grilled cheese sandwiches (THANKS KRAFT!!) it doesn't always do the trick for me.  Sometimes you need something creamier...a little richer...with more flavor...something completely indulgent.

I was at a friends house recently and was introduced to smoked cream cheese. Immediately I was depressed  knowing something THAT amazing existed and I couldn't have it. I also tasted it to confirm my misery.

Well in a style very typical of me, I was consumed by a stubbornness to recreate the magic.  I spent the next few days researching cold smokers and temperatures, along with the durations and tools needed to accomplish this feat.
It wasn't until I was on my way to Home Depot to pick up the supplies that it hit me. LIQUID SMOKE!? Could it work? Would it be nasty? How expensive is it? How long will it take me to get to the grocery store from here traveling at approximately 60 miles per hour and assuming there is no traffic?
Truthfully none of that mattered, I had to try it.
After a measly $3.50 I realized that I had created something magical. Completely...utterly...magical. It was so magical that I remade it for blogger night with Three and a Half Stones To Go along with my Turkey & Stuffing Meatballs.

Let me introduce you to your new friend:
Smoked Cream Cheese - Hypo Style
2 tbsp liquid smoke
1/2 cup water
1 block fat free cream cheese
garlic powder
Tabasco sauce
Montreal Steak Seasoning
ground black pepper
Find a dish that will fit the cream cheese with only a little room for liquid. (I used one of those Hillshire Farms lunch meat containers.) Mix the liquid smoke and water into that container. Add the cream cheese block. Allow this to sit for 20-30 minutes. The longer it sits the smokier it will taste. After your desired time is up drain all the liquid off the cheese. Drizzle the block with a little Tabasco, then coat it lightly with the seasonings. Press those seasonings gently into the block and serve.

This tastes amazing on everything from cucumbers to crackers to my coworkers breakfast sandwich. I didn't actually try the sandwich, but the sound effects he made after each bite lead me to believe that I am awesome.
I'll also be using this in my Baked Jalapeno Poppers to bribe people in the near future...I just have to find the right victims  things to ask for  people.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turkey & Stuffing Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce

Blogger nights are so much fun for me. I get to see a great friend, make delicious food, enjoy (a few too many) drinks and share our great discoveries with you lovely people. This month was all about appetizers and while we wrestled with the names (all of which are too horrible to repeat) we dominated on the dishes. far as the name of our event, I think we settled on Skinnytizers...don't judge, the other ones were much worse.

Bree over at Three and a Half Stones to Go made these spicy garlic shrimp things that I am remaking for dinner one night this week. She also made this delicious veggie cup with low fat feta and basil. Be sure to stop over and give her some blogger love.

In honor of my love of Thanksgiving food (and holiday food because to me the holidays are just an excuse to make more Thanksgiving food) I decided to mix all the flavors of the meal into an easy to share appetizer. I also made this AMAZING smoked cream cheese which you'll hear about later this week.

Anyway on to the deliciousness...

Turkey & Stuffing Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce
1 cup low sugar cranberry juice
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 packet plain gelatin

3 egg whites
1 package cornbread stuffing mix
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup celery
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 lb. ground turkey
For the sauce:
Bring cranberry juice to a boil. Dissolve brown sugar into juice. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin, then the orange juice. Put in the freezer to get a nice quick chill and allow the mixture to solidify slightly.
Preheat oven to 375˚F. In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into 1" balls or take the cheater route and use an ice cream scoop. Place these on a greased cookie sheet. (I like to cover the pan in tin foil to make clean up easier.) Bake for 20-30 minutes until browned. Serve the yummy balls topped with the cranberry sauce or alongside it like I did for easy dipping.

It tastes like the holidays but waaaaaay fewer calories.
This recipe made about 60 meatballs and each meatball with sauce counts for about 40 calories. The best part is how incredibly low the fat content it. Total fat is .4 grams per meatball and only .1 grams of saturated fat. You'd also count this as a carb and protein serving so make sure you mix in a side of roasted veggies if you are looking for the full meal effect.

What sort of meal revisions are you making to help you survive the holidays in the same pant size?

I take part in Simply Indulgent Tuesdays.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Banana Bread Makeover

Around my house there is always a poor pathetic banana that doesn't get eaten when it should. Those bruised and neglected bananas get peeled and put into the banana bag in the freezer. Once the banana bag has grown to contain 3 discarded bananas I get excited for bread, but not just any bread, my mom's super moist and flavorful banana bread. Her recipe is so good that I've given loaves out for Christmas many years in a row.  Now that I write this I realize how sad it was that it took 6 bananas (6!?) for me to realize I could revamp her recipe into something I could enjoy without guilt.

Now I just need to name it...

Butter Free Bread
Nearly Fat Free Banana Bread
Best Most Healthiest Banana Bread
Better Than Mom's Banana Bread
Banana Bread so good you could cry
I dream of Banana Bread

I've got about we stick with
Banana Bread
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin
4 egg whites
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
3 overly ripe, then frozen, then thawed bananas
1 extra ripe mashed banana
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter extract
Preheat oven to 350. Using an electric mixer, blend the sugar and pumpkin together. Then add in the flours, salt, and baking soda. Don't over mix. Next add in the remaining ingredients and beat until just combined. Prepare your loaf pans or muffin tins by spraying with olive oil and dusting with flour. Pour mixture into loaf pans or muffin tins and bake until a toothpick comes back clean. Depending on what you are making (loaf, mini loaves or muffins) this can take anywhere from 20-50 minutes.

So here is the comparison:

When I first calculated all of this I was pretty disappointed. The calorie count wasn't that greatly reduced, and the amount of sugar actually went up! How could I tell other people about this amazing recipe and honestly endorse it?!?! Well I'll tell you how:
1) Do you see what happened to the fat content? One serving lost 5 grams of fat, 3 of which were saturated.
2) Heeeelllloooo added nutrients!
3) The makeover dropped 32.1 grams of cholesterol.
4) 4 WW+ points before. Now only  3 WW+ points.
And lastly 5) Because it is really really really good!

Try it, you won't be disappointed, and if you are I will totally take the stuff you don't want. Actually, could you make it and just send me one or 2 samples please?

Shared at: Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays
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